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March 2017 Newsletter: Identify Risks, Plan for Traffic Safety Solutions & You Can Have Last Laugh

Our Driving Concern Program Manager Lisa Robinson speaks to issues and concerns all employers face when trying to make their workforce safe on the road:

For more than 30 years, comedian David Letterman entertained late-night TV audiences with his Top Ten lists. He poked fun at everybody and everything. And rare was the occasion when viewers didn’t crack a smile.

For Letterman, the zany antics began with his “Top Ten Things That Almost Rhyme with Peas” in September 1985. For me, a top 10 list is a more grounded tool I roll out on occasion when speaking to groups about traffic safety. I use a Letterman-style reverse countdown to highlight why a back-to-basics approach often is best.

Q: Will I catch anyone laughing during one of my talks?

A: Actually, I might. I do use humor and stories from other employers in an effort to get my point across and make my presentations more engaging. Boring just isn’t enjoyable! I work with employers to combat the costly toll of crashes and want them to enjoy our time together and remember what I share. My aim is to help employers reduce costs, exposure to liability and save lives. No drum roll, no fanfare, no Letterman-like sidekick. My PowerPoint slides serve as my only props.

Why? AAA says 87% of drivers it polled indicated they have engaged in at least one risky behavior while behind the wheel within the last month. So, let’s talk about traffic safety risks. My Top 10: Please, count down with me. Number …

10. Accelerating Through a Yellow Light: To avoid that guy – or gal – wait a few seconds to enter an intersection after a signal turns green.

9. Ignoring Traffic Signs: Stop means stop, not rolling stop.

8. Not Using Turn Signals: What’s the deal? No blinker fluid is required.

7. Not Checking Blind Spots. Look around to be sure it’s clear; don’t overload your car so you can’t see out the windows.

6. Knowing What the Lines Mean: What I see most often is drivers turning wide into the wrong lane or passing in a no-passing zone. Seriously?

5. Parking in the Wrong Spot. Go ahead and walk a few extra steps. We all need to get 10,000 steps in a day! A big ol’ pickup truck just doesn’t fit in the “compact parking only” spot. Thinking thin does not help!

4. Tailgating, Speeding, Aggressive Driving, Leap-Frogging.

3. Know the Vehicle You Are Driving: When it comes to safety features, Google is your friend. Also, check MyCarDoesWhat.

2. Striking Fixed Objects: What driving activity occupies less than 1% of a driver’s time behind the wheel, but regularly produces 25% of all collisions? Backing up. I can go on and on about this subject because I think it is the one thing I hear from most every single employer. (Check out my PowerPoint slides that you can use for a safety talk).

1. Driver Distraction: Food, makeup, cell phones. Anything that diverts a driver’s attention from the primary task at hand, that of focusing on the road, is distracting. Leave the grooming and other stuff for home! Just drive.

Deal the Cards and Play a Game of Traffic Safety to Engage Employees

Where do you think the majority of asleep-at-the-wheel crashes occur? Choose one answer:

A. On dark, rural highways with little or no street lighting.

B. On highways and major roadways with speed limits of 55 to 65 mph.

C. On urban highway exchanges with several lanes and exits.
To find out if you were right, visit our website: How to Use the Safety Coach Cards.

The cards can be used as a traffic safety teaching tool outside of a traditional classroom setting. Cards feature discussion prompters and questions with suggested answers. Each card is labeled with a topic. Use all the cards of one topic to form a complete safety lesson, or mix them up for a Jeopardy-style quiz game. Engage your employees, save money and save lives.

How to Reverse Trend: 1% of Driving Time Produces 25% of Collisions

While it is easy to calculate employer costs associated with motor vehicle crashes, it is impossible to put a price tag on the loss of human life.

Workplace crashes cost employers an average of $24,000. If an employee is injured, the cost increases to about $125,000. Small investments in traffic safety often result in big savings. One place to start is with a review of backing up basics.

Backing is the driving activity that occupies less than 1% of a driver’s time behind the wheel but regularly produces 25% of collisions. In fact, the leading cause of fatalities for workers in work zones is being run over or backed over by vehicles.

A simple tip to avoid incidents: Teach drivers to look for opportunities to park at corners and in other places where they won’t have to back out of a cramped lot or busy worksite location.

Instead of a Book, Put Toilet Tabloids on Top of Your Bathroom Reading List

Complacency is killing us. That headline screams across the top of the March issue of Toilet Tabloids. In our unique free resource, we highlight the three leading causes of traffic fatalities: speeding, distraction and not buckling up.

Also, you will find the results of a AAA poll on risky driving behaviors and a reminder from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration this is timely for St. Patrick’s Day merriment: Call a Taxi Before You Turn Green.

Print and post in restrooms at your workplace and make traffic safety a regular part of your safety culture. This is one of the items that is downloaded most for our website!

Advice from Lisa: Consider Question of What You Can Afford Carefully

The one thing I hear over and over again is that safety – and especially transportation safety – is the first area that employers look at when making cuts. My question: With transportation incidents ranking as the leading cause of fatalities in the workplace, shouldn’t it be the last place where cuts are made?

It may be hard to realize the value and the cost-savings associated with making even a small investment in safety and traffic safety. But it’s much easier to see when you actually have incidents that lead to injuries and/or property damage. And you’re hit with the bill.

My advice: Don’t be so quick to overlook the safety investment that does pay off in many ways.

Employers have shared with us many stories from the frontline. After adding traffic safety to their workplace safety culture, they see a reduction in risky behavior, unsafe driving, severity of incidents and injuries. Not to mention a reduction in costs. Knowing that should encourage all employers to jump on board with making transportation safety a strong part of any workplace safety culture.

Letter from Lisa: Can We Send You Our New Training Materials?

All: We are super-excited to roll out the newly updated Our Driving Concern Train-the-Trainer Curriculum. Drowsy driving has been included with new data and new resources.

If you attended a training session in the past – prior to Oct. 1, 2016 – we would love to send you the newly updated materials on a flash drive. The idea is to make it easy for you to access items and start using them at your workplace.

Here is the link. Please fill in all of the required fields so we can get the flash drive in the mail to you! And please let me know if you have any questions.

 – Lisa Robinson, Senior Program Manager, National Safety Council

Your Safety Plan Will Make Them Green with Envy

In Texas, more than 950 people are killed every year in crashes involving alcohol. Incidents of drinking and driving tend to spike during holiday periods. Employers can work to reduce risks, save money and save lives during the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

This year, St. Patrick’s Day falls on Friday, March 17. Three ways to make a difference:

  • Don’t push your luck: If drinking at a party, plan for a safe ride home
  • Print and post: Infographic messages from our friends at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (or share via your company intranet)
  • Watch: Video Public Service Announcements from the Texas Department of Transportation (Faces of Drunk Driving)

NHTSA says 252 people died in St. Patrick’s Day period crashes from 2011-2015. Take steps to prevent your employees from becoming a statistic.

Erath: All Eyes on the Traffic Safety Prize

In the Texas Department of Transportation Office in Stephenville, Sheree Norton-Ward serves as the lead safety point of contact. She signs her emails with a few words to live by: “Remember, safety is everybody’s business. Make a plan, practice the plan, live to tell the tale!”

Her team is living the high life today after being singled out as one of 15 recipients in the annual Our Driving Concern Texas Employer Traffic Safety Awards program. A plaque recently was delivered to the Erath, Hood & Somervell Counties office marking the TxDOT branch’s commitment to traffic safety.

“The guys are thrilled,” Norton-Ward said. “Thank you so much!”

Let Others Hog These Headlines

In a survey conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, 21% of drivers said they read or send texts while behind the wheel. Studies show this type of driver behavior increases crash risk. Juries in America have reacted strongly in cell phone distracted driving cases, awarding large damage amounts to plaintiffs. Three ways to ensure you are protected and your employees are safe when behind the wheel:

According to TxDOT data, there are more than 100,000 crashes involving distracted drivers every year in Texas. The result: more than 475 people are killed and another 18,000 are injured.

Wichita Falls Joins Growing Cell Phone Ban Movement

In Wichita Falls, a ban on drivers using handheld cell phones goes into effect on March 21.

“I would rather inconvenience somebody and make my city a little bit safer,” Mayor Stephen Santellana said in an article published by News Talk 1290.

The ban applies to all vehicles, including motorcycles and bicycles. Wichita Falls is one of about 100 Texas cities that have banned or restricted cell phones while driving, according to the report.

The thing to remember: Hands-free is not risk free because of mental distractions that can persist for as long as 27 seconds after using dashboard technologies and voice controls. Drivers looking out the windshield can miss seeing 50% of what is around them when talking on any kind of cell phone.

Share: On the Road, Off the Phone

Let’s Do This Again

All: I have enjoyed sharing this information with you and look forward to visiting with you again next month. Feel free to email me your questions, thoughts or suggestions for things you would like to see addressed in upcoming eNewsletters or included on our website.

Your driving concern is Our Driving Concern.

Lisa Robinson, CFLE, National Safety Council Program Manager